Twelfth-seeded Armenia held the top-seeded US to a 2-2 draw in a dramatic end to a tense game with a touching gaffe from GM Sam Shankland and retained the lead with 13 match points after the seventh round of the 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad. GM Gabriel Sargissian defeated GM Fabiano Caruana on the top board, and all other games also ended decisively. Uzbekistan, India 2, India, USA, Germany and Kazakhstan are among the teams that are ranked second to 13th with 12 match points.
GM Dommaraju Gukesh of India 2 maintained his clean record of 7/7 with a win with the black pieces over GM Carlos Daniel Albornoz Cabrera of Cuba. Ireland’s IM Conor E Murphy (2404) continued his impressive streak, beating Egypt’s GM Fawzy Adham to maintain a 6/6 score. By beating Poland’s World Cup candidate GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2750), GM Mark Paragua (2461) enabled his country, the 62nd seeded Philippines, to hold fifth seeded Poland to a 2-2 draw. In other notable appearances, France in 15th place kept Netherlands in seventh place with a 2-2 draw, while 40th seeded Kazakhstan beat fourth seeded Spain by a score of 2.5-1.5.
India leapt ahead by 14 match points in the FIDE Women’s Chess Olympiad with a 2.5-1.5 win over Azerbaijan, even after IM Gunay Mammadzada defeated GM Koneru Humpy on the top board. Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia are tied by 12 match points for second fourth place.
Poland’s WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa (2376) defeated Bulgaria’s Beloslava Krasteva (2249) to maintain a score of 7/7 in a remarkable performance. However, 15th-seeded Bulgaria performed well on other boards to keep fourth-seeded Poland tied at 2-2. 27th-seeded Greece defeated 11th-seeded India 2 by a score of 2.5-1.5, and 23rd-seeded Czechia held out 13th-seeded Spain to a 2-2 draw.
Chess requires intense concentration across the board. Each player brings to the table an intensity level that allows him or her to maximize their commitment to the game. At such moments it is sometimes enough to observe the player to enjoy himself. It is not even necessary to look at the position on the board to enjoy the game. The Olympiad Tournament Hall is an arena where you can watch the most diverse players from different parts of the world doing their best on the board. A player’s presence on the board, the will to win, the determination to get the most out of the board and his utmost concentration are all a real pleasure for the spectator, not to mention a photographer.
The most pivotal game of the day was the top-board clash between tournament leader Armenia and top-seeded US GM Levon Aronian was equipped for the encounter, not against Armenia, his native country.
Just under an hour and a half into the game, GM Wesley So’s match against GM Hrant Melkumyan took a dramatic turn when So’s 18.Bh6 seemingly seemed like a gaffe, although played after more than 10 minutes of thought. Melkumyan succumbed to the temptation and played 18…e4 in just a few minutes. Because So came up with a nice concept in return, the game is analyzed in our Game of the Day:
So’s beautiful sacrifice, in which a queen was sacrificed, was highly praised by GM Peter Svidler, who noted: “This position will be in every exercise book for eternity. It will be included in every single tactics collection from today until we no longer playing chess!”
The game steadily became more tense into the fourth hour of play, as GM Arturs Neiksans stated on Chess.com’s live commentary, “There’s drama happening on all three boards!”
So’s quick win was overshadowed by the top board encounter, where Caruana appeared to have blundered as he approached time control, when Sargissian won a pawn on the 34th move and extended his advantage:
GM Leinier Dominguez fought hard in a chaotic game to finally gain the upper hand against GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan towards the end of the first time control to give the US a crucial victory.
Thus, it was left to the meeting between Shankland and GM Robert Hovhannisyan to decide the fate of the match, where the latter tried to convert his significant advantage when he was short on time. exclaimed Neiksans, watching the Armenian’s slow play: “Hovhannisyan is burning time!…(He) has spent quite some time coming up with the plan. But has he!?” Shankland fought long and hard from what at one point appeared to be a lost position and came to the following position at the end of the sixth hour of play:
Shankland had just played 90.b3 and appeared to have drawn, as the resulting queen against queen and bishop should be a theoretical draw. When Hovhannisyan played 90…Qg2, Shankland assumed his opponent had played 90.Qh1+ and immediately answered with 91.Kc2 in a reflexive play. Shankland immediately realized the blunder and had to resign, as he had touched the white king and was forced to play 91.Kc1, while black would win with 91…Qb2 92.Kd1. Instead, 91.Qc4+ would have tied the game and gave his team a 2.5-1.5 win in the game. Click here to see a video of the specific moment of Shankland’s gaffe.
The highest board of the India vs. India 3 was a clash between two close friends, GM Pentala Harikrishna and GM Suryasekhar Ganguly, who have played each other more than a dozen times in classic games in two decades, without a single game ending decisively. Although Hari appeared to have a slight advantage, the match ended in a draw, with GM SP Sethuraman-GM Vidit Gujrathi also following.
On the third board, GM Arjun Erigaisi defeated GM Abhijeet Gupta when he blundered in a flat position:
When asked about the game during the press conference, Erigaisi admitted that he realized 24.g5 was a mistake after playing it. In the game position after 31.Qd4 he felt he had practical opportunities by expanding on the queenside with a2-a3 followed by b3-b4, although the position remained the same.
On the fourth board, GM Sunilduth Narayanan built up a steady kingside attack against GM Abhimanyu Puranik. But then events developed dramatically:
Gukesh scored his seventh win in a row when India 2 defeated Cuba by a score of 3.5-1.5:
The 52nd seeded Philippines held the fifth seeded Poland to a 2-2 draw, aided by Paragua (2461) beating Duda (2750) with the black pieces.
Outside of the top tier, Murphy of Ireland defeated Adham of Egypt in the seventh round, adding to his six wins in the six games he has played to date, with a performance rating of 3165. His other wins were against GM Amin Tabatabaei (Iran ), GM Matthias Bluebaum (Germany) and IM Lee Jun Hyeok (South Korea).
What Happens Conor Murphy goes to 6/6 for the event; crushing his last GM opponent with a score of 2471! This match is also on 1.5-1.5 with @irish_tarun insist on the match win in a tie. @FIDE_chess @chennaichess22 #ChessOlympiad pic.twitter.com/7J6rogePrQ
— Irish Chess Union (@IrishChessUnion) August 5, 2022
Mammadzada delivered a huge shock by beating Humpy on the top board in the Azerbaijan v India match:
On the second board, after trying hard in a similar looking rook endgame, GM Dronavalli Harika missed a chance in the endgame:
Neiksans came up with a clever quote about rook endgames: “If you have an extra pawn in the rook endgame, it’s definitely a draw. But if it’s a tie, you win!”
IM’s R. Vaishali and IM Tania Sachdev took another crucial win for India, and Vaishali was delighted to describe her game at the press conference. She claimed that the rook ending with four pawns against three pawns was the exact position she had studied in training camp with GM Boris Gelfand prior to the Olympiad:
WIM Oliwia Kiolbasa from Poland has played in every round so far and won all her matches. Her score of 7/7 is a huge contribution to her team’s total points. Here’s her seventh-round win:
View the full results here.
The 44th FIDE Chess Olympiad and the Women’s Chess Olympiad are over-the-board team events where national chess federations compete in classic games for gold medals, trophies and the title of strongest chess nation in the world. The event consists of an 11-round Swiss tournament where each player from one national team plays against another player from the other national team. Teams receive “game points” for winning or drawing games and “match points” for winning or drawing a match. Teams with the most match points for each section will be crowned champions of their section, with a third prize for the team with the most points from both sections combined.